National Geographic : 1976 Jul
Energy: a great land gobbler. As the world seeks alternatives to oil, the realiza tion dawns that producing energy requires land-lots of it. While oil wells and deep mined coal disturb little surface land, strip mining of coal by its very nature scalps siz able tracts, as demonstrated by Montana's Decker Mine (left, below). Less publicized is the enormous acreage required for some nuclear power plants. Heated cooling water from the Turkey Point Plant near Miami (left, above) circulates through 168 miles of canals before reuse. One possible land-saving solution: the gasification of coal in situ-that is, by con verting the coal into gas while it is still deep underground, thus disturbing little surface area. Jet of coal gas in a laboratory (above) augurs the potential boon to come.